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Microsoft releases Office developer tools

The tools promise to enable developers who work with Visual Studio .Net to create custom applications that tap into the new version of Office's XML-based capabilities.

Microsoft released on Monday a set of developer tools for building software and services that tap into the new version of Office.

Visual Studio Tools for Microsoft Office System is intended to allow developers who work with Visual Studio .Net tools to create custom applications that work with Office System, the next update of Microsoft's productivity package.

Office System, scheduled to launch next week, is expected to include revamped versions of familiar applications such as Word and Excel. It will also contain new products such as InfoPath electronic forms software and SharePoint collaboration services, according to Microsoft.

Some of the most significant changes in Office revolve around the adoption of Extensible Markup Language (XML), an increasingly widespread standard for exchanging data between computing systems. The XML functionality should allow companies to tie Web services into Office applications and facilitate connections between Office documents and corporate computing resources.

However, developers will have to write custom tools to take advantage of Office's XML features, such as connecting to corporate databases or Web services.

"The customization opportunities offered by Visual Studio Tools for the Microsoft Office System will help businesses achieve faster time to market for their internal and external applications," Eric Rudder, Microsoft senior vice president, said in a statement.

Visual Studio Tools for the Microsoft Office System is available now at $499 for the full version or $199 for customers using another Microsoft developer product.